We continue our brand new sermon series ‘How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?’. Preaching from Alan Cole.
At the end of his life John was exiled on the small Greek island of Patmos because of his faithfulness to God’s word and his likely refusal to worship the Roman emperor as a god. He was isolated from the churches that he sought to serve, but God granted him a special vision of the future. How did John cope with isolation and can we learn anything from his story?
1) He was able to look back and count his blessings. John had lived a long and eventful life. He could look back at the many experiences and blessings that he had received. He may well have had books that he could read – all of the rest of the New Testament had been written by this time. We too can use this time of isolation to look back and give thanksto God and perhaps use it to read books or study God’s word.
2) He was still able to minister. Although physically separated from the churches, he could still exercise a ministry of prayer. He could also keep in contact by writing letters, including the book of Revelation with the letters to the seven churches. We have it much easier than John – he did not have the benefit of telephones and the internet, but we can still minister to and encourage one another in our isolation, by contacting and helping each other where there is need.
3) He was able to look to the future. He had in Revelation 1, this great vision of Jesus. The book deals with the destruction of evil, the victory of Christ and the triumph of the church. Even though he was imprisoned by Rome, his vision stretched far beyond the four walls. He saw Christ in triumph, in a human form (v13) but in power and authority as our great high priest (v13), the eternal God (v14), as one who sees all things (v14) and as one who knows and judges every action (v16).
4) He was able to lose his fear of the future (v17 & 18 and Isaiah 43:1-8). Like John, we live in uncertain times. But after this great and almost terrifying vision, Jesus’ words to John were “Do not be afraid.” Why are we not afraid? Because Jesus is in control of all things, because He has defeated death and it is He who holds the keys to heaven and hell.
- At your feet we fall
- Behold the Lord upon his throne
- Thine be the glory
Theme: St. John Copes with Isolation
Reading: Revelation 1 : 9-20
Preacher: Alan Cole